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LISTEN: Ballooning to the North Pole

In 1897, Swedish engineer S.A. Andrée made the world's only attempt to balloon to the North Pole.

Andree balloon

In 1897, Swedish engineer S.A. Andrée made the world's only attempt to balloon to the North Pole.

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Military Fantasy and Myke Cole

Sword and Laser welcomes back the amazing Myke Cole to talk about how he finds time to write great books, fight crime, and decorate his apartment with even more books. We also pressure him into a startling revelation about unicorns. And of course, talk to him about his new book, Gemini Cell: A Shadow Ops Novel, which is out now!

Full show notes here!
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Avatars, rubber hands, virtual reality, and racism

Can changing your body, even just for a few minutes, change your mind? Can a psychological body transfer melt away your long-held opinions and unconscious prejudices? Maybe so.Read the rest

LISTEN: Ben Franklin's Guide to Living

2015-01-25-podcast-episode-43-ben-franklins-self-improvement-plan-1

In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll explore Benjamin Franklin's self-improvement plan and find out which vices gave him the most trouble.

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This week's best gadgets

This week Mark and Jason compare tea makers and Xeni talks about her Hario Japanese coffee products. Read the rest

Ready Player Two? A sci-fi sequel is in the works.

Join Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont for the Sword and Laser Podcast.

We wrap up The Sparrow. We loved it and it made us sad. We're also blown away at the quality of books being made into TV shows. Well, only a pilot and a trailer but so far so good. But should you risk reading a book and seeing a movie or TV show too? Maybe not! Plus, we get a hint at a sequel to Ready Player One!

Full show notes here!
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Gweek audio experience: How to 3D print your family

Our guest this week is Maggie Tokuda Hall. She writes books for children and stories for adults. Read the rest

Here are Gizmodo and Engadget founder Peter Rojas' favorite tools

Peter Rojas is the founder Engadget, gdgt and Gizmodo. He currently co-hosts MVP, a podcast about new tech products, alongside Ryan Block (previously interviewed on the Cool Tools Show). Peter focused his picks for this episode on personal impact, his philosophy being that truly worthy tools not only change your life, but they also change the way you think about the world.

See Peter's picks and show notes.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show podcast.

Listen to all Cool Tools Show episodes here.

LISTEN: The Balmis Expedition: Using Orphans to Combat Smallpox

The Balmis Expedition

In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell how Spanish authorities found an ingenious way to use orphans to bring the smallpox vaccine to the American colonies in 1803. The Balmis Expedition overcame the problems of transporting a fragile vaccine over a long voyage and is credited with saving at least 100,000 lives in the New World.

We'll also get some listener updates to the Lady Be Good story and puzzle over why a man would find it more convenient to drive two cars than one.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Show notes

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The ceiling that birthed a naked man

What happened when a naked man literally appeared out of thin air inside a couple’s apartment while they were getting ready for work?Read the rest

Don't Fear The Roomba? An Interview with Daniel H. Wilson

Author and robotics engineer Daniel H. Wilson chats with us about his new story/app called Mayday: Deep Space about a person trapped on a ship full of monsters. Only you can help him survive! But of course we have to ask Daniel when the robots will rise up and kill us all.

Show notes here!
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Gadgets 022: RGB LED Lightbulb, KontrolFreek joystick extender, Photive 5 Port Multi-USB Charger

This week Mark, Xeni and Jason recap their holidays and current favorite gadgets — a remote controlled color changing light bulb, Xbox joystick extender, and a multi-USB charger. Read the rest

LISTEN: the desperate last days of a lost WWII bomber

Lady Be Good

The American bomber Lady Be Good left North Africa for a bombing run over Italy in 1943. It wasn't seen again until 15 years later, when explorers discovered its broken remains deep in the Libyan desert. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the strange history of the lost aircraft and trace the desperate last days of its nine crewmen.

We'll also climb some twisted family trees and puzzle over the Greek philosopher Thales' struggles with a recalcitrant mule.

Show notes

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LISTEN: The Mary Celeste: A Great Sea Mystery

The Mary Celeste

In 1872 the British merchant ship Mary Celeste was discovered drifting and apparently abandoned 600 miles off the coast of Portugal. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review this classic mystery of the sea: Why would 10 people flee a well-provisioned, seaworthy ship in fine weather?

We'll also get an update on the legal rights of apes and puzzle over why a woman would not intervene when her sister is drugged.

Show notes

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Monkeys, money, and the primate origins of human irrationality

Psychologist Laurie Santos trains monkeys how to use money, and has learned that they attempt to solve the same sort of financial problems humans have attempted.Read the rest

LISTEN: Lateral Thinking Puzzles

Lateral Thinking Puzzles

Here are eight new lateral thinking puzzles that you can try on your friends and family -- see who can make sense of these odd scenarios using only yes-or-no questions.

Show notes

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Best Books of 2014: Sword & Laser Podcast

Well we're here to kick off the new year AND celebrate our 200th episode so we gathered drinks and cheer and your favorite books of 2014 as well as our own and a few others. You'll never guess which one everybody picked! That's not true. You'll totally guess. You probably already guessed. But listen to the show anyway, OK. For us?

Full show notes here!
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Christmas Kitty Bokeh

Photo: Maia Weinstock


Photo: Maia Weinstock

A lovely cat capture by Maia Weinstock, shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool.

The odd phenomenon of "blind insight"

A growing body of evidence is revealing that our guesses and our confidence in those guesses don’t come from the same place in our minds.Read the rest